A Co-Presentation by Pacific Opera Victoria and the Victoria SymphonySaturday, November 23, 8 pm
The performance is approximately two hours, 30 minutes, including an intermission.
Trailer for the Lincoln Center Theater production engagement at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff, with Jason Howard as Emile de Becque, the role he will perform here in Victoria.
Pacific Opera Victoria and the Victoria Symphony join forces for a semi-staged production of the much loved Rodgers and Hammerstein masterpiece, South Pacific – a musical classic that, song after glorious song, is as touching, relevant and romantic as ever.
This is a first for Victoria: a Broadway musical presented with a full orchestra and wonderful operatic voices.
You will hear all the songs you know and love, including Some Enchanted Evening, Younger Than Springtime, BaliHa'i and There is Nothin' Like a Dame.
More than 5 million people in the Philippines have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded.
During the Saturday & Sunday performances of South Pacific, Pacific Opera Victoria & Victoria Symphony volunteers will accept donations in support of the Canadian Red Cross Typhoon Haiyan Fund.
Donations of cash, cheque or credit card will be accepted in the lobby of the Royal Theatre. Tax receipts will be issued by the Canadian Red Cross for donations of $20 or more.
Donations may also be made
Please earmark donations "Typhoon Haiyan". The Government of Canada will match donations made by individual Canadians between November 8 and December 9, 2013.
The girls sing "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair. Pacific Opera Chorus and Lara Ciekiewicz as Nellie. Photo by David Bukach
Lara Ciekiewicz as Nellie and Jason Howard as Emile de Becque. Photo by David Bukach
The sailors, with Dan Costain (centre) as Luther Billis and the Pacific Opera Chorus. Photo by David Bukach
From top: Lynne McMurtry as Bloody Mary; Adam Fisher as Lieutenant Joe Cable; Jane Rideout as Liat. Photo by David Bukach
When South Pacific opened on Broadway in 1949, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II were riding a wave of success with Oklahoma! and Carousel. Separately they had contributed to some of the most popular Broadway musicals of the early 20th century: Rodgers with Lorenz Hart (Babes in Arms, Pal Joey) and Hammerstein with Jerome Kern (Show Boat).
Both lyricist and composer now wanted to tackle a theme that was not only serious but timely, and to confront the problem of racial prejudice.
Based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning book by James Mitchener, South Pacific is set on a small island during the Second World War. Woven throughout its scenes of military and island life are two love stories, both serious, one tragic (the team's previous shows had continued the Broadway musical tradition of balancing a serious couple with a comic one).
Both authors felt that the ballet sequences that had distinguished Oklahoma! and Carousel would be out of place in this grittier contemporary story, so the story unfolds exclusively in dialogue and song.
Many of the numbers took shape only when the principal roles were cast, especially the two leads: Nellie Forbush (originally Mary Martin) and Emile de Becque (famously borrowing Ezio Pinza from the nearby Metropolitan Opera House). South Pacific went on to win ten Tony awards, and remains the only musical to snag all four in the acting categories.
My own love affair with South Pacific began with the original cast album, which had been the best-selling record of the 1940s and remained popular into the mid-1960s, the songs having become part of our culture.
Much later I was fortunate enough to see the critically acclaimed Lincoln Center revival in 2008. With nary a changed word – or nod to political correctness – this production proved that South Pacific is, alas, as relevant to us as to the post-war audience.
And how beautifully the songs enrich and enliven the story! Hammerstein's lyrics fit each character and situation so naturally that one never notices how easefully polished they are. And Rodgers – who claimed he could "pee" tunes – endows South Pacific with one breathtaking hit after another: "Some Enchanted Evening," "Wonderful Guy," "Younger Than Springtime," "Bali H'ai" – every one a hit!
My own personal favorite is "This Nearly Was Mine." And I can't wait to hear it sung by my own personal favorite Welsh baritone, Jason Howard!
POV audiences will remember Jason from his appearances here in the title roles of Il barbiere di Siviglia (2000) and Eugene Onegin (2005). Since then he has become "the Wotan of his generation" (Bruno Serrou, La Croix) and has enjoyed great success in a variety of roles from Verdi to Strauss to Adés.
But he comes to the Broadway musical honestly, having played Ravenal in Show Boat and given us Make Believe, a first-rate CD recital that pays tribute to the Hollywood Baritones. When the Lincoln Center Theater production of South Pacific moved to Toronto and London, Jason took over the role of Emile de Becque and achieved another triumphant success as actor and singer. We are thrilled to welcome him back to our stage in this iconic role.
Joining Jason Howard in the cast of South Pacific will be Lara Ciekiewicz (Ensign Nellie Forbush), Adam Fisher (Lieutenant Joe Cable), Lynne McMurtry (Bloody Mary), and several of Victoria's most popular local performers.